Thompson & Morgan

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Growing herbs from seed

Herbs in general

Set aside a bed in a sunny position near to the kitchen for this wonderful group of plants and you will enjoy not only their fragrance and beauty but also their culinary benefits.

Most herbs are best used fresh as garnishing, in stuffings and sauces, but the dried leaves are valuable also, while some are grown specifically for their seeds or for their aromatic quality.

In early spring prepare a fine tilth - see Sowing Outdoors - so that the hardy annual herbs can be sown as soon as the soil has warmed up to about 50°F (10°C). Sow the seed thinly in groups and cover with finely-sifted soil.

Hardy perennials may be sown at this time also or in the autumn, while half-hardy herbs should be sown in late spring after danger of frost has passed.

Parsley, in particular

The seed is very slow to germinate, but can be speeded up somewhat by soaking the seed for 12 hours prior to sowing or by watering the drill before sowing then covering with dry soil.

For a continuous supply sow 0.5in (1.25cm) deep in early spring and again in the summer in a sheltered position outdoors or in soil blocks or trays of compost for thinning or transplanting to about 6in (15cm) apart. In winter cut back the flowering stems to prolong the cropping period.

Root Parsley (Hamburg Parsley) needs a long growing season. Sow in early spring 0.5in (1.25cm) deep in drills 12in (30cm) apart and thin out to 9in (23cm).